Believing in Angels

Why I Should Believe?

 “A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.” Anon

Bad situations come along and we suppose that luck is the reason we’ve escaped from them. It is not hard to manufacture all sorts of reasons why in the end a problem worked out quite well. We leave out  any answers beyond the material world. But why do we leave out any spiritual dimension such as angels?  The reason is obvious for all through years of school and during our daily lives very few admit there is a spiritual world beyond the one in which we live day by day.

However, remember this. A few years ago the best scientists didn’t know anything about quarks, the Higgs boson or other similar particles. But of course those building blocks of matter did exist. Remember this: a few hundred years ago in Europe scientists refused to examine meteorites brought to them. They said that rocks did not fall from the sky. Similarly, now those who believe only in the material world cannot accept that a spiritual world might exist around us. For me that dimension includes angels

I cannot accept that luck and the material world has all the answers to the good events that got our family through tough corners. I’ve mentioned many of those in this blog–difficult situations when we had no answers. I’ve not gone further and mentioned why I thought those hard times worked out as well as they did. Some might call them miracles or perhaps God’s direct intervention. I’ve often thought of them as the ministry of His angels.

Here is a bit of that post that you might want to look up. In “Throwing Dice for One’s Life” I mention how Doris trusted me when we plopped down in Brazil. That was a country where then we had no friends. She gambled her life and future, adding to all that the gambling what would touch the life of our four month old daughter Monica. Remember, it is impossible to stay on a street corner in São Paulo as in any or the world’s other great cities.

When Doris and I went to Brazil we had no one to meet us, could not say “Good Day” in Portuguese, had no Brazilian money nor had any sure idea of the city where we were going. We were marching off the end of the world.  Strange? Yes, but I remember this. The gambling instinct is part of the greatness of every human. What we did seemed so very normal to us back then for taking chances is part of man’s God-given nature. We went to Brazil as missionaries living by faith–some might call that foolish gambling.

What I believed really happened is that God had his angels working to keep us not only safe but get us ready for that first step to our work in Brazil. Here is what happened. When our prop plane took off from Porto Rico I think it was, after refueling, two other couples boarded with each having small children. They were Mennonite missionaries going to Brazil and when they found out our predicament they offered the help of one of their families in São Paulo. These folks helped us through customs, then explained that Campinas was a city too far away to take a taxi. They got us a taxi and paid the fare. At the bus station they bought our tickets, escorted us over an hour away to Campinas and there arranged a modest hotel.

Not only will I ever respect and appreciate those Mennonite missionaries but when I think of the chance of them meeting us at that airport—it seems now an impossible situation. You see, they had missed the plane the day before. We all could say it was just chance. Perhaps, but what a wonderful chance—for us better than winning the 649 lottery. When incidents happen like that again and again and again, I can only say that God’s angels were there all that time. Not just all the time but working overtime. Wow.

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

A Bridge That Demands a Dare

Sorry for the lack of any pictures. I’m having real trouble with the new system at WordPress. This is an old blog–all I can do at the moment.

The pathway down from the road was of the same red dirt that is so common across Brazil. But this path was hard packed with the imprint of many feet. Why would a dirt trail such as this be so well used in the city of São Paulo with its 22 million people? Just this! It led down to a short suspension bridge that crossed a dirty little creek linking the suburb of São Bernardo to a ghetto. In Portuguese this slum is named a favela and is similar to many that are situated on hillsides. The poor build their shacks there where nobody else would.

A tropical storm filled the creek, extended up the hill and washed the bridge away. (I suppose a tropical storm would be the only kind they’d have in Brazil–it is in the tropics.) The bridge was desperately needed of course for the stream drained sewage from the hills. My own experience in getting over the creek without the bridge was similar to all the team members. We crossed the fetid water stepping carefully, so very carefully from one stone another all the while hoping not to slip into the creek.

But why were we careful to avoid touching the water from the creek? Just this. Our young son Vernon became ill with hepatitis from just such a stream when we lived in Rio. That disease is contagious and Doris then came down too with hepatitis. We certainly didn’t want any of our team to get such a bug for it might mean a long stay in a Brazilian hospital. That could be really tough on a person when he/she would be a continent away from home.

The question is, why would we even try to cross over to the favela on the other side? Well, a lady, Dna. Francisca lived there. Her home was put together with bits and pieces of wood and tin. It was from there that she ministered to the families and especially the children of that favela. She had gained the respect of the drug lord for that area and so was free to hold Christian classes for children. We as a group visited Dna. Francisca for she had arranged for us to put on a program for those same children. They scurried to us and gathered in an open area near Dna. Francisca’s place.  Adults did not join us but a number who were curious listened and watched from a distance.

I suppose that Dna. Francisca could move from this favela but one of her concerns would be losing her ministry to her neighbours. In a way, for those folks on that hillside she was and is a bridge from their superstition and misguided faith to a personal trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Why is that important for her? One reason is because she came from a chequered past, having worked as a cleaning lady in a motel. Motels there are known as places for short-term sexual encounters. Then her daughter was miraculously healed from cancer that had metastasized through her body. Doctors had sent her home from the hospital to die but the prayers of God’s people saw a total healing.

In this ghetto, Dna. Francisca shares her story of the power of the Gospel of Jesus in her life and in that of her daughter. She offers to her neighbours the greatest bridge known to mankind, the Salvation offered by Jesus. That bridge gives divine grace to escape the pollution of this world and to one day enter an eternal peace with God. What a bridge!

Wonderful Experiences in Brazil

Wonderful Experiences in Brazil

“Life is about using the whole box of crayons.” Anon

Even though the door on past experiences closes with a bang, yet I wish to share a few of the highlights in our lives, thinking right now of our time in Brazil. For you to understand how Doris and i felt in all these situations, just remember we both grew up on farms.

A long time ago before airplanes were often high-jacked, we were allowed to visit the cockpit of a plane. This back when planes used props to fly, but still it was exciting to see the pilots at work in the plane’s cockpit.

As we began our second tour of duty in Brazil, we boarded an Argentine ship out of New York. Not long out of the port we encountered a hurricane that made rough sailing but not as bad as the destruction of a radar station north of us in the Atlantic. The rest of the trip went smoothly with the crew putting on a big party for the passengers as we crossed the equator.

More exciting was the short trip on a “teco-teco” the small plane piloted by a Presbyterian friend. That day we flew over the village of José Bonifácio to spread invitations to services.

When we moved interior to Rio Preto after language school we made some great friends—none more kind and helpful than the Menzies family that lived close to us. We counted on them to help Doris and me as we struggled with the language.

One of the few trips we made was to visit two missionary families in the state south of us. After a hard and long bus trip to Maringá we stayed at with the Kaspersons who drove us on to Cianorte where we stayed with the Hartmans. Remember these were dirt roads that were either slippery with mud or filling the air with red dust. Here we are all together including our daughter Monica. Vernon stayed with friends back in Rio Preto. I remember these missionaries with astonishment at their good work, done under tough circumstances.

We were also during our second term able to visit the Hustons, missionaries in Paraguay. While there we stopped to see the river that passed close to the city of Ascunion. Yes, that is Doris in this foto, even though she is no fan of boats or rough waters.

Nothing was a more gratifying experience than to participate with new believers in their baptism into the church of Jesus. Why this baptism? It was a declaration of their faith in Him had changed their lives in this world and given them hope of eternal life. That of course is a salvation given to all who will receive our Lord’s gift of eternal life.

Bits and Pieces

Dear Friends:

After some urging, I’ve given in or been compelled to try writing my blog once again. A problem is my inability to copy any pictures and put them in the blog. As I’ve been sorting through stuff for a move sometime in the future, I’ve come across a scattering of pictures. I can copy any of them but can’t move them to the blog. Can anyone give me a hand?

One picture hiding in scraps of junk tells the story of holding our first services in Brazil–in a backyard that had not one sprout of grass. I was still struggling then with Portuguese but saw families commit their lives to Christ. But, yes–that story will have to come later, if and when…

Sailing Home–this is the title for some of my scribbling yesterday. I was reminded of the shortness of life as Doris was away visited a brother–Rev. Eldon Craig. His life is ebbing away. The empty house sent me a message that we are all heading in that direction. My 89th. birthday a few days ago reminded me that my life is going in the same way. This idea originated in the newspaper.

I stand on the seashore and watch as a ship unfurls her sails. It is the first time for those sails to touch the soft morning breeze. I am amazed at her beauty as she embarks from the harbour under full sail. Now she sets her rudder for the adventures of the vast ocean. This ship rides low in the water for she carries a precious cargo for distant lands. The waters rush white from her prow; she tilts to a contrary wind as she fades on the horizon.

Those gathered at my side say, “Well, she has gone.” So soon she is lost to us on the vast oceans of this world. Gone yes, but gone where? Has she been called to some special destiny? I wonder. In truth the ship has only diminished in our sight, becoming smaller till we can see her no more. She has gone to wondrous adventures in strange ports in faraway lands.

Over time I hear the echo in my mind, “She is gone.” Surely, while she is gone from me, there are others who are looking for her coming into another port. The captain of that port is there with many others, all watching, waiting for her to dock. They see the tattered sails being furled for the last time and stored in the hold of this battered ship. So many voices take up the glad shout, “She has come home.” Happy hands reach out and moor the scarred vessel to the dock. They are happy for she has docked in what is now  her home port. She has come home!

There is more I might write but not just now.

blessings,

Roy C. Kenny

 

 

To Give or to Get

No one ever injured their eyesight by looking to give to God and his work. RCK

A real estate agent in Rio explained to me some of the key practices of Macumba Spiritism. He said he and others at times put out offerings to the spirits at a crossroad in the mountains above the city. The purpose was to get an advantage that was often immoral or at times bordering on the illegal.

The offerings of food and drink might be more or less elaborate that this one pictured here. The parts or the whole of a black chicken in an offering were to bring special pleasure to the spirit. In the end, the offering was about getting something. Give a little—get a lot.

This statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooked the interior city of São José do Rio Preto was a copy of the one over Rio de Janeiro. The statue may mean different things but it brings to my mind the words of a Gospel song, “At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light—the burden of my heart rolled away…” Something else happens at the cross, an experience summed up in another song, “I surrender all, I surrender all—all to thee my precious Saviour, I surrender all.”

 

The way of surrender covers all of life and may be symbolized in baptism. This baptism I performed occurred in the interior of the State of São Paulo and in that culture and time it meant a total surrender to Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

For Doris and I, surrendering our lives meant working it out in practical ways. This was one of the Sunday School classes at our church planting project in Neves Paulista. A Bible School student from São Paulo city was giving us a hand—a trip to us of some 600 kilometers.

The final word of this blog has no picture for the conclusion will happen only in eternity. Jesus tells us that as we surrender and serve him in his work that we lay up treasures on the other shore. A wow and an amen to that.

 

Brazilians Adapt To Their Own World

“No one ever injured their eyesight by looking on the bright side.” Anon

The Orientation Classes in the language school was a great help in showing us how to fit into the Brazilian culture. Learning Portuguese was essential for us, but learning how to be Brazilians in many ways was also important. We found this to be true, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

 

We learned that preaching on the street was often part of starting a church. Friends told us that this man came to this praça—public park—most every day to give witness to his trust in Jesus. Doris and I, often with a few friends, did the same thing. Doris would attract a crowd with the music from her cowbells. When they became tired or my short message, she would bring in another crowd with her bells.

When we did not have a clothes’ washer, a lady came and washed everything by hand. She dried the clothes on the grass with the sun providing some bleaching. That was hard work.

Since it was nearly impossible to buy a wash cloth and since a person needed a little help in scrubbing up in a bath, we called a shu-shu to help. That was the fibrous interior of a plant that looked like a huge cucumber. When the shu-shu was mature, the pulp was beaten off and the interior dried. We then had a washcloth provided by nature. Here hundreds are drying, getting ready for sale.

Often on a street someone would have a cart selling a snack, most often fresh fruit. Some of our friends were afraid to buy and eat there but I had no reason to be afraid for I never had a problem.

Here children work selling from door to door, hoping to cooperate with their family to put food on the table. As I look at this picture my heart is moved by their situation.

 

 

 

 

 

Often in Brazil, the very fact of having a place to worship was enough to encourage people to attend. So volunteers and with some funds from North America would be a tremendous boost in forming a church. Here are some pictures of a place of worship in the process of construction, including the finishing work on the work on the second floor.

Once again, VISA teams from outside Brazil fit into the work of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ by giving a little boost. We praise the Lord that over the years we have seen the good results of this cooperation.

The work of some Brazilian women in the interior

“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

I’m again writing once again about the work of Brazilians—as if I were an expert, which I am not of course. This saying might fit me, “Encher a linguiça.” An exact translation is, “To fill the sausage” but it means “to ramble, to fill space with meaningless things without quality.” Long ago the rich could eat good meat but the slaves or workers got pig guts or the poorest leftovers. Later the pig intestines were filled with the poorest meat—sausages. I hope this blog goes further than “encher a linguiça.”

 

During our time in the interior of São Paulo State, we came to know the lives of those who worked the coffee fields. This young lady stands beside the oven where she made bread for her family. The oven was first heated with wood and after the oven was hot it was swept clean and the dough was placed in the oven to bake. Life was incredibly hard for these “colonos.”

This family were share-cropping the coffee crop. I never did find out if they could earn a little more this way than working by the month. I do know this, every person in the family worked in the coffee fields with the mother spending as much time as her household duties allowed. I recall this saying by these folks, “You only earn enough for two of the three necessities in life: food, clothing and medicines.

 

Part of the work in the coffee fields was separating the beans from anything else that was scraped off the soil along with the coffee beans. This work took a good bit of skill.

 

Brick making was hard work! Every brick was made by hand with red mud plopped into a mold and then laid out in the sun. When dry then all those bricks were stacked in a kiln for burning. I suppose this brick making was a family project for a woman is hard at work with another bent over beside her. I recall visiting a family’s project of piling the dried bricks into their small kiln. The small opening would be blocked after wood in the center was aflame so that later the bricks would be burned—hard like rocks.

 

 

 

Early in the life of this nation, tapping trees for rubber was big business. After we left Brazil, natural rubber found a niche market. Here a lady explains to us how a narrow slice of bark is removed from the tree, allowing the latex to flow into a container. Later the latex compound is heated over an open fire and slowly wound up to form a large ball of raw rubber.

 

 

Till we were able to buy a washing machine, our clothes were washed by hand. The pounding and slapping of the clothes on a plank may have gotten the clothes clean but it was hard on them. As well, it was hard work for the lady working to get everything washed.

Doris and I were in Brazil along with our children, to work but not in the coffee fields. Our purpose was to preach hope in and through Jesus Christ who would be a friend in this life and provide certainty of life eternal. A wonderful Gospel song says it this way, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear…”

 

Great Friends in Brazil

“Set a goal that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning.” Anon

While in Brazil, Doris and I made lasting friends; many of them still are friends over the years and miles. We’ll mention a few while there are those who still stir up joy in us through their contribution to our lives and our ministry.

I’m not sure how much this parrot considered us a friend though he liked to have us scratch his head. I suppose he put up with us for we brought him food. He learned one word that we wish he might have forgotten. That word was Monica and he would begin to scream it out at daybreak most mornings. We needed no other alarm clock other than his raucous voice.

I am not sure how we might have survived during our first year or so without these friends: Murdo and Isabel Campbell , the only ones there with our mission. They there was Nobel Crawford and family. They were independent missionaries and were quick to cooperate with us. After I purchased an accordion for Doris, Nobel got Doris started on it by showing her the middle C button on her left hand.

Now a cute story. One evening while having dinner at the Crawfords, there was a lot of laughter. Their parrot joined in so heartily that it finally fell from its perch. On the floor it fluffed out its feathers as if embarrassed and then it climbed a curtain back to its perch. We laughed at the parrot more than it ever did at us.

Henriqueta Menzies and her family lived close by and helped us in many ways, including finding me a teacher to help me with my Portuguese and my sermons. Henriqueta and family were part of the Presbyterian Church, a church and a family that pushed for people to take the Way of Jesus. Here she is passing out Gospel tracts on a street in Rio Preto. She was not a shy evangelist!

 

 

Then I must include Midori Ono on the right along with Kazuko. We came to know Midori as a single girl when the F. M.s sent her to be in charge of the church planting we had begun in Rio Preto. She did a great job though Portuguese and the Brazilian culture were less familiar than her own. While isolated from her family, she did a great job. Later she married Takera Oshima who became a pastor in the Japanese section of the church. I cherish this picture of these girls.

The Presbyterians gave a great deal of help to us, as missionaries as we groped our way along in the interior of São Paulo state. Here a group of their youth are shown as they came to give a hand in one of our Sunday Schools.Our experience, of working with other churches in Brazil, was totally positive. It made sense to  give each other a helping for there was so much need and work to be done. Our common purpose was to build the Kingdom of Jesus  Christ.

Now some advertising of our books! A book, fiction is just off the press and is set in a São Paulo city slum. It has the title of “A Stray Bullet Has No Address,” a saying common to those slums. Doris has her memoirs, “Homeward Bound” and I have mine, “Angels Worked Overtime.” Both tell the story of the adventures and challenges of mission work, as well as the events that dropped us into the interior of São Paulo State.

Wonderful Experiences in Brazil

“Life is about using the whole box of crayons.” Anon

Even though the door on past experiences closes with a bang, yet I wish to share a few of the highlights in our lives, thinking right now of our time in Brazil. For you to understand how Doris and i felt in all these situations, just remember we both grew up on farms.

A long time ago before airplanes were often high-jacked, we were allowed to visit the cockpit of a plane. This back when planes used props to fly, but still it was exciting to see the pilots at work in the plane’s cockpit.

As we began our second tour of duty in Brazil, we boarded an Argentine ship out of New York. Not long out of the port we encountered a hurricane that made rough sailing but not as bad as the destruction of a radar station north of us in the Atlantic. The rest of the trip went smoothly with the crew putting on a big party for the passengers as we crossed the equator.

More exciting was the short trip on a “teco-teco” the small plane piloted by a Presbyterian friend. That day we flew over the village of José Bonifácio to spread invitations to services.

When we moved interior to Rio Preto after language school we made some great friends—none more kind and helpful than the Menzies family that lived close to us. We counted on them to help Doris and me as we struggled with the language.

My beautiful picture

One of the few trips we made was to visit two missionary families in the state south of us. After a hard and long bus trip to Maringá we stayed at with the Kaspersons who drove us on to Cianorte where we stayed with the Hartmans. Remember these were dirt roads that were either slippery with mud or filling the air with red dust. Here we are all together including our daughter Monica. Vernon stayed with friends back in Rio Preto. I remember these missionaries with astonishment at their good work, done under tough circumstances.

We were also during our second term able to visit the Hustons, missionaries in Paraguay. While there we stopped to see the river that passed close to the city of Ascunion. Yes, that is Doris in this foto, even though she is no fan of boats or rough waters.

My beautiful picture

 

 

Nothing was a more gratifying experience than to participate with new believers in their baptism into the church of Jesus. Why this baptism? It was a declaration of their faith in Him had changed their lives in this world and given them hope of eternal life. That of course is a salvation given to all who will receive our Lord’s gift of eternal life.

 

Roads Take Us To Where We Need To Go

“Difficult roads often lead us to beautiful destinations.” Anon

It is nice to have good transportation when we need to travel–and to have a road. However in this blog I’m not thinking so much of roads though I know so well some roads in Brazil and Haiti. Many of them have interesting stories to tell though I wish to focus on transportation.

 

 

While visiting our family and churches in Egypt I found out first hand that donkeys and camels often crowd the right of way. Of course riding a donkey is better than walking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 This is a story Norman Cooke explained to me that if a person hit any animal or even person on a road, that it was not wise to stop. The crowd that was always nearby might destroy the car and even kill the occupants. What did the driver do? Why, he drove to the next police station and explained the accident. The police then took over.

One day while Doris and I were “passiando” –taking our time strolling along on Copacabana beach we came upon the graveyard for a few old boats. There were not many pieces abandoned there, but to see any at all was a surprise. Perhaps the boat had an illustrious people, or worked with fishermen to catch fish and sell them in Rio. I was reminded of the shortness of the life of that boat. As Doris and chatted with friends at McDonalds to-day, my concluding remarks were from the old song, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through…

While on home leave, Doris and I did a good deal of travel to present the cause of missions. I will admit that most of the time I had to leave Doris and the children at home. My memory is no longer accurate but this picture of our transportation and road was taken in the Western part of Alberta. Such pictures are a treasure in our minds but the song I’m quoted continues with, “My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue…” I don’t expect any snowbanks there.

My beautiful picture

While travelling in the Los Angeles area, we met Roy and Delight Kent with their family. We had worked with this wonderful family in Brazil and on this trip they took me sightseeing.  I’ve forgotten the name of the other missionary on their right—too bad. This old wagon was known as a Prairie Schooner for it carried families to set up their homes west of the Mississippi River. Those travels were treacherous, but of course not while we were in this amusement park. Once again, this retired wagon tell us something of this life.

 

Often the whole matter of transportation and roads come to my mind. With eighty-eight years behind me, I understand there is not much road left ahead to travel. I think of the Gospel song that declares my feelings so well, “God be with you till we meet again…” We trust in Jesus, for he declares he will carry us to a future “abraço” at that meeting.